“How Cycling can Save the World” by Peter Walker 

A really good read and informative on the topic of what makes for safe cycling and safe bicycling conditions and the many benefits of encouraging more people to ride a bike.  Benefits like improved physical and mental health,  lower medical costs, economical, environmentally beneficial, happiness.

 

The author fills the pages with stories and facts to refute the common misconceptions about our favorite past time.  For example, why do most people choose to not ride a bicycle?  Answer:  because it is not safe.  But it can easily be proved that choosing a sedentary lifestyle watching hours of television daily or playing with our electronic devices is far less safe.  “More people now die from eating too much vs too little” is a quote I jotted down.  A full chapter worth reading on “Why People Hate Bikers”.  More tribal and due to prejudice than I would have thought.

 

I’ve long known that many European countries have safer conditions for cycling than here at home but did not know that it was more recently brought about … October 14, 1971 when Simone Langenfofl, age 6, living in Helvoirt, The Netherlands, one of 450 children struck and killed by a motor vehicle that year caused her father to write a newspaper article “STOP DE KINDERMOORD” (stop child murders) which led to a national movement and the creation of a new road safety pressure group that changed everything.

 

What is the Number 1 reason people do not cycle?  Fear of motor traffic!

 

Another example that really resonated … “911” which caused America to go to war.  Our annual budget for Homeland Security is currently $38 billion and we are still fighting two wars 18 years later.   Between 2001 and 2013, 3,380 American citizens died due to terrorism.  Horrible but we do understand our national reaction.  But what about the carnage on U.S. roads in this same period when 501,000 people have died.  Yo, kind of puts it into perspective.

 

We who bike on the roads often hear the charge that we do not pay for the road.  Peter Walker gives compelling evidence that bicyclists actually pay more of the cost of roads than other vehicle drivers … and of course most of us are also motor vehicle drivers too … and get this, the drivers making this charge are not paying for even half the cost of the transportation network!  Read this book for the facts and evidence.

 

And learn about the term “Blaming the Victim” with society’s answer to the continuing large numbers of cyclists and pedestrians struck down on the roads … bike helmet laws, efforts to require registration of bicycles and carrying photo id.

 

The author presents both sides of many arguments.  Wearing a bicycle helmet is safer, right?  Maybe yes and maybe no.  What about the high visibility clothing many of us wear?  The Netherlands is known for many bicyclists and having a transportation network that supports people walking and biking but few wear helmets or bright clothing and most wear their everyday clothes when biking.  And there safety records regarding people who bike and walk is enviable.  

 

Do not throw away your helmets or bright bike clothing yet … but read this book!

Article submitted by Jeff McPartland